Taleb Al Zakwani, 8, hugs his father, Mohamed Said Al Zakwani, formerly of Oman, during a naturalization ceremony at the Manor House in Wildwood Preserve Metropark on Monday.
As the rain fell Monday morning outside the Wildwood Manor House, Judge David Katz couldn’t help but compare the nourishing water to American citizenship.
“Welcome to the new rain we’ve been waiting the entire summer for. You see the two things merge — your becoming new citizens and the fertilization of this country through rain and new citizenship,” he said at a naturalization ceremony where about 40 people gathered.
PHOTO GALLERY: Taking oath of citizenship
In total, 25 people from countries including Brazil, Iraq, and Taiwan became citizens during the event.
Mohamed Said Al Zakwani, originally of Oman, said he came to the United States for an education at the University of Toledo about 17 years ago and decided to stay. The mechanical engineer, who resides in Findlay, said his love of America continues to grow.
“I just love the country and the opportunity I’ve been given here,” he said. “It’s the freedom, and the opportunities, and the people — they’re very friendly. I met my wife, she’s from here.
“I started a family, and this is the place I want to raise my kids in.”
The ceremony was personal for Steve Madwell, executive director of the Metroparks of the Toledo Area. Mr. Madwell, who opened the ceremony, said becoming a citizen “represents an important milestone in a long process that has lasted over several years.”
Lydio Delicana Dema-Ala of Defiance, formerly of the Philippines, gets a hug from his friend Joseph Littleton of Toledo after becoming an American citizen during the ceremony.
“I know this. How do I know this? I have a son-in-law who is going through the same process,” he said. “I have a great sense of appreciation for what all of you have been through and the commitment you’ve made to become U.S. citizen.”
Those comments were echoed by Judge Katz, who reflected on the journeys of his ancestors to the United States.
“These are very special, very emotional times, these occasions. They take me back in my mind’s eye to when my, and others like me, forebearers sat in places like this,” he said. “It’s a pleasure and privilege for me to be among the first to welcome you as new citizens of this great country and to encourage you to take full advantage of the rights you will enjoy.”
People who took the oath of citizenship Monday were:
- Somalia — Abdinasir Mohamud Ali
- Oman — Mohamed Said Al Zakwani
- Ghana — Ambrose Akwasi Amoako, Frederick Kwarteng, Deborah Kai Obembe
- Algeria — William Abdelkader Beddek
- Philippines — Lydio Delicana Dema-Ala, Aurietta Lim Cousino
- Jamaica — Earl Darlington Edwards, Jermaine George Ellis
- Jordan — Dina Ahmad Jarouche, Munira Rashed Oadan
- Canada — Shelley Ann Kameron, Cynthia Joanne Mudge, Sheenagh Imrie Seymour
- United Kingdom — Barry John Leitch
- Kenya — Christopher Ngari Mwai
- Iraq — Yousif Abed Nakar, Layla Botrus Shamoun
- Mexico — Marcela Maria Robinson, Maria Cecilia Leon Torres
- Taiwan — Calvin Chien Han Sung
- Vietnam — Linh Chi Sabrina Thi Tran
- Brazil — Ahmed Wehbi
- Malaysia — Nyet On Wong
Kris Turner can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6103.